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Taiwan president reiterates peace initiative amid tension

Publication Date : 04-09-2012


Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou yesterday reiterated his East China Sea Peace Initiative, urging neighbouring countries to show restraint and seek peaceful means to settle territorial disputes amid escalating conflict on the ownership of the Tiaoyutai Islands.

“We called upon all parties to refrain from taking antagonistic action, shelve their differences and resolve disputes through peaceful means,” Ma said yesterday in Taipei.

Despite calling for a peaceful solution to the ongoing row, the president reaffirmed Taiwan's East China Sea claim and stressed that there will be no concessions concerning the nation's sovereignty over the disputed area.

“We will insist on our national interest and sovereignty, and we will not budge even an inch,” Ma said.

The president made the comments when addressing Taiwanese diplomats during a ceremony to mark the launch of the Foreign Ministry's Institute of Diplomacy and International Affairs.

Ma's remarks came after media reports claimed that the Japanese government has taken another step in its bid to nationalise the Tiaoyutais. Tokyo officials reportedly plan to buy the island chain from a private owner in mid-September for 2.05 billion Japanese yen (US$31.8 million).

Located in the resource-rich East China Sea, the islands lie about 100 nautical miles off Taiwan's northeastern tip.

Known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan, the uninhabited cluster of islands is currently under Japanese control. Taiwan and China, however, also claim ownership.

Asked to comment on Japan's move to nationalise the island chain, Foreign Minister Timothy Yang, who attended the same ceremony with Ma yesterday, said Taiwan does not recognise any such move that would undermine the country's sovereignty.

Reaffirming that the Tiaoyutais are the inherent territory of the Republic of China, the foreign minister asked all sides to remain calm and solve the dispute rationally.

Yang also defended the government, which has been accused of merely paying lip service to its territorial claims by reiterating its stances verbally and not doing enough to defend its sovereignty in the region.

The minister said Taiwan has to repeatedly reaffirm its sovereignty claim in the East China Sea as a reminder to the international community.

The government has done more than pay lip service, Yang said, adding that the peace initiative proposed by Ma is one of the concrete moves Taiwan has initiated. The peace initiative calls for a joint effort to solve the dispute rationally because proactive actions would not achieve this goal.


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